Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt gets high approval after successful session
Published: July 13th, 2021
Ray Carter, Center for Independent Journalism
Following a session in which he signed school-choice expansion and tax cuts into law, a new poll shows 59 percent of Oklahoma registered voters approve of Gov. Kevin Stitt’s job performance and 63 percent believe Oklahoma is headed in the right direction.
Those figures were released by Amber Integrated, a public-affairs firm whose services include lobbying, media relations and survey research. The survey of 500 registered Oklahoma voters was conducted from June 24 to June 28 and had a margin of error of 4.38 percent.
(Polling details here: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/60099f1f6ffad96a2d94bf98/t/60dcebbac99bee38730fdcb8/1625091003599/AI+OK+Statewide+-+Crosstab+Results+-+June+2021+-+Public.pdf)
This year Stitt signed (https://www.ocpathink.org/post/governor-signs-school-choice-tax-cuts) into law an expansion of the Equal Opportunity Scholarship program, which provides tax credits to donors who voluntarily contribute funds to support education, including funds for private-school scholarships. That measure was one of several education-related items that became law this year, along with new funding for public charter schools’ facility needs, changes that reduce “ghost student” funding and ensure money follows a child more quickly to the school they currently attend, a record appropriation of $3.2 billion for K-12 education, increased open-transfer opportunities so children can choose from among public-school districts, and legislation banning instruction that tells children there is a superior race or gender (https://www.ocpathink.org/post/stitt-signs-ban-on-racist-teaching)
Stitt and legislative leaders declared education reform a major accomplishment of the session and proclaimed 2021 the “Year of Oklahoma’s Education Turnaround.”
Stitt also signed legislation that reduces the personal income tax from 5 percent to 4.75 percent and reduces the corporate income tax from 6 percent to 4 percent. In addition, Stitt and state lawmakers dramatically increased state savings, bringing total savings above $1 billion for only the second time in Oklahoma history.
Those measures fall in line with Oklahoma voters’ top concerns, according to the Amber Integrated survey, which showed that “jobs and the economy” was cited by 33 percent of voters as the number one issue facing the state, followed by 15 percent of voters who listed education as the number one priority. COVID-19 was cited as the state’s top priority by only 8 percent of voters.
The poll found a larger share of Oklahoma voters approve of Stitt’s job performance than approve of the job performance of the state’s two U.S. senators, although all received majority support. The survey found 52 percent of Oklahoma voters approved of U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe’s job performance and 54 percent approved of U.S. Senator James Lankford‘s performance.
In contrast, just 42 percent of Oklahoma voters approved of President Joe Biden’s job performance while 53 percent disapproved, including 40 percent who strongly disapproved.
While 80 percent of Stitt’s fellow Republicans approved of his job performance, he also received high marks from a significant share of other subgroups. Those giving Stitt positive ratings included nearly 32 percent of Democrats, 33 percent of black voters and nearly 69 percent of Hispanic voters surveyed.
When those surveyed were asked if “things in Oklahoma are going in the right direction” or have “pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track,” those saying the state is headed the right direction included 57 percent of Democrats along with nearly 69 percent of Republicans. Among all age groups surveyed, strong majorities said Oklahoma is on the right track, as did nearly 52 percent of black voters, nearly 65 percent of white voters, 73 percent of Hispanic or Latino voters and 80 percent of Asian voters.
Among subgroups, only those identifying as Native American were pessimistic about the direction of the state with 63 percent saying Oklahoma was on the wrong track.
NOTE: Reporter Ray Carter’s news report first appeared at the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs website, here: (https://www.ocpathink.org/post/stitt-gets-high-approval-after-successful-session). Carter is director of the Center for Independent Journalism, based at OCPA.